New Delhi, Aug 2 (EFE).- Indian authorities said on Wednesday another African cheetah has died at a national park in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, bringing the number of big cat deaths to nine since the cheetah reintroduction project began in the country nearly a year ago.
The dead animal was one of the 20 African cheetahs recently reintroduced in the country to recover the species as part of the ambitious “Project Cheetah.”
It was found dead on Tuesday at the Kuno National Park, a protected area in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, an official source told EFE on the condition of anonymity.
Initial assessments indicate that its dense fur may have caused the death of the cheetah.
The excess fur along with the high temperatures and humidity in India may have favored the growth of bacteria in the animal’s wounds, leading to infections that caused its death.
Under the Project Cheetah, the first eight specimens of a batch of 20 from South Africa and Namibia arrived in India in September, followed by another group of 12 in February.
The nine deaths in the past four months, including three cubs from a litter of four born in March, were attributed to lung disease, clashes with other cheetahs and heat strokes.
After the back-to-back deaths, now only cheetahs remaining alive in India.
In July, the frequent deaths led to the dismissal of JS Chauhan as the chief wildlife warden of Madhya Pradesh.
“We should anticipate further mortality before year end. The loss of 50 percent of the founder population in the first-year post release is standard,” Vincent van der Merwe, in-charge of the cheetahs’ relocation project, told EFE in July.
“Further losses in year two post release must be anticipated,” he added.
Project Cheetah aims to release 50 specimens of this species in India over the next five years, after its Asian variant went extinct more than 70 years ago due to indiscriminate hunting and the destruction of its habitats in the country. EFE